India played a patient game that had both poise and plan as they capitalised on their quick start to reach 185/1 at lunch on Day 2. In the process, KL Rahul made his third Test century in as many countries while Cheteshwar Pujara chugged along playing with a watertight defence and tiring out the West Indies bowlers.
This is only second wicketless session of this series and although it produced just 59 runs, the stage is now set for Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to accelerate the scoring and get India to a position where they can decide when to pull the plug on West Indies.
Having reached 126/1 in quick time on the first day, India could afford to give themselves the time to settle and go for a huge first innings score. They couldn’t have found a better duo to accomplish that. Rahul had compiled his half-century quite quickly but this time he was ready to leave the balls and wait for the right delivery.
LIVE Scoreboard: West Indies vs India 2nd Test Day 2 Scoreboard
Pujara did his thing --- quietly nudging the balls around and making sure he didn’t give any chance to West Indies. There were a few times when Pujara was hassled by the pace of Shannon Gabriel but otherwise it was pretty much smooth sailing for him.
The plan clearly was to leave as many deliveries as they could and adjust to the pace of the pitch which is probably best for batting now. There were thumbs up going around for good leaves and even West Indies looked happy to see their defensive bowling not getting much stick.
Pujara added just 18 runs to his overnight score but looked content playing the slower batsmen of the two. Pujara took exactly 35 balls to get his first runs of the day when he went down the wicket to flick Roston Chase towards leg for a couple. Both boundaries he scored all morning were off Miguel Cummins, the first was a drive through mid-on while the second was a fierce square cut.
Rahul, on the other hand, had a better strike rate. The first phase in the morning though was testing for the opener, especially against Shannon Gabriel. He induced an edge off Rahul’s bat first delivery of the 46th over but that didn’t carry to gully.
Last ball of the same over suddenly jacked away but this time Rahul kept his eyes on the ball till the last second. His first boundary was against Chase --- a sweep past deep square-leg --- but it was clear that Rahul had to get his eye in all over from start. On a pitch that R Ashwin had said wasn’t easy, Rahul wasn’t ready to take any chance. Most of his big shots came off Chase, including the six over wide mid-on that gave him his third Test century.
With the primary mission of not losing any wicket in the first session accomplished, India should be looking to accelerate from here now. There are predictions of heavy rain on Monday and Tuesday. And if that happens not only could this match stretch to the fifth day, the onus is also on India to get a sizeable lead in the next two sessions. That should give enough time to their bowlers, irrespective of whether it rains or not.